The University of Missouri announced that Barry Odom will become the school’s 32nd head football coach in program history. Odom will take over for recently-retired Gary Pinkel, who stepped down after 15 seasons at Mizzou, citing health reasons. Odom signed a five-year contract with the university after one season as the team’s defensive coordinator. He was introduced at a press conference Friday where Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades justified the hiring by saying the following.
He is the right person. This is the right time. This is the perfect fit.”
A former Tiger linebacker himself, Barry Odom spent the three years prior to 2015 as the defensive coordinator for the University of Memphis. It was thought that Odom was a leading candidate to land the Memphis head coaching position when Justin Fuenta left for Virginia Tech, but the two sides were far apart, according to ESPN. That job ended up going to Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.
Once Odom’s playing days were over at Missouri, he coached high school football for three years before signing on to the administrative side of football operations at Mizzou, where he excelled for six years. Before departing for Memphis, Odom spent 2009-11 as Missouri’s safeties coach.
Odom’s hiring and the school’s decision to stay in-house was met with approval from the supporting community and especially the players, captured in two different angles by the program’s Twitter account.
At Friday’s introductory press conference, Barry Odom walked in to the Mizzou Arena with the band playing the school fight song and hugged Pinkel first before sarcastically admitting that he bribed his players to react the way they did in the above videos. “I paid those guys a couple of dollars to make sure they were excited on the walk through the door,” said the 39-year old Odom. But he was serious when talking about what his expectations are for the program moving forward.
“This is a place I expect to win championships. I believe in the values of outworking your opponent, having great toughness and leadership and all the things that’ll give you a competitive edge… My vision, without question, will be championships in all walks of life. I’m not afraid to say that out loud.”
— Tim Tai (@nonorganical) December 4, 2015
Under Odom’s watch, the Missouri Tigers defense ranked ninth in the country in total defense, the first time in the history of the program that they had a defense rank in the top 10. And prior to arriving in Memphis, those Tigers ranked 117th nationally. His final year there they were 22nd. Yet despite Odom’s pedigree as a defensive guru, he will hire a defensive coordinator to run that side of the ball, though he did say he would gravitate there as he settles in to his new role.
Athletic director Rhoades revealed he and his committee had narrowed the search down to five prospective candidates, vetting many more than that, but ultimately Barry Odom was their choice because “he’s a man of integrity and a great coach.” The Odom hiring leaves seven vacant head coaching positions in college football remaining as Louisiana-Monroe, North Texas, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tulane and Virginia continue their searches. Georgia is expected to name Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart their new head coach soon after firing Mark Richt who accepted the position at the University of Miami.
[Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images]